Cyber attacks against infrastructure jump 17-fold warns National Security Agency


QuickTake: It has been disappointing to see how slowly utilities have moved against the threat of cyber attack. Perhaps this latest warning will convince them to be proactive. If not, legislation is making its way through Congress that will force changes.   - Jesse Berst


The head of the National Security Agency and the new U.S. Cyber Command warns that the number of cyber attacks on U. S. infrastructure increased 17-fold from 2009 to 2011. Gen. Keith B. Alexander told the Aspen Security Forum that preparedness for a large-scale attack sits at "around of three" on a scale of 1 to 10, reports the New York Times. He warned that more attacks are targeting critical infrastructure and asked Congress to pass tough cybersecurity legislation. (Click to page 2 for a video of Alexander discussing cyber threats in Washington D.C. last month.)


The problem is the U.S. still has no centralized resource for data sharing and coordinating response -- nor any kind of nationwide mandatory security standards.


FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff wants Congress to give a federal agency more authority over the nation's electric grid to keep it safe from cyber attack. "My intent is to simply have somebody be put in charge," Wellinghoff said according to a story in The Hill's Energy & Environment Blog. "It doesn't have to be FERC."


He wants the entity in charge to have the authority to order those responsible to take steps needed to mitigate threats and vulnerabilities. Speaking in Washington, DC, Wellinghoff said Sen. Jeff Bingaman's cybersecurity bill would accomplish much of what is needed.